Sunday, October 25, 2009

Another one bites the dust...

Since the economic crisis began about a year or so ago in the US, the expat community over here in China has dwindled steadily. Expats from all over the world have been sent home due to financial strain(s) in the workforce. However, that isn't the only reasons expats end up going home early.

I know I have previously mentioned the amount of strain ANY expat faces when coming to China to do business. Most often, the damage is the worst for married couples and/or families. It is a recurring and CONSISTENT theme over here. Time and time again, marriages break up due to continuous stress from one aspect or another in EITHER of the spouses' lives, as an expat, here in China. I don't know if it is the same elsewhere in the world, but there can be NO denying the disastrous effects it can have on couples over here. of my very good friends over here has finally succumbed to the pressures put on her marriage and is moving back home in three days. :-( Divorce looks imminent.

Another good friend of mine is teetering on the very edge of her marriage and is in the process of making plans to leave her husband for good.

A newly made acquaintance is in the beginning stages of a formal and legal separation. She and her husband are currently in negotiations for housing and financial rights.

A friend's husband's co-worker just left back to the US with her kids after having enough of her husband's "shenanigans."

These are just FOUR CURRENT situations I can talk about. Nobody back home has any idea just how many expats face these dire consequences to moving here, every day. I had mentioned to my chinese friend the seriousness of expats' positions in their marriages. She didn't understand why this should happen. She felt that if her and her husband moved to a different country and felt isolated, it would bring them closer together. It seems like it should be that way, right? So WHY do so many expats face this tragedy??

MANY REASONS!! I had to remind my chinese friend that the stress comes from many different angles for expat couples/families. The husbands face several levels of new kinds of stress at work, whether it is language barriers, cultural differences, additional travel or general pressure put on them by their companies. The wives face completely different, but JUST as heavy, kinds of stress. They have to worry not only about themselves in a different culture, with a different language...but they also end up worrying about their entire families needs as well...not to mention their kids' safety and overall general concern for their family's health and well being. It is naive to think that any wife can handle that in the US, so they should be able to handle it over here. Not so. You have to add foreign culture, foreign behavior, foreign language...everything COMPLETELY the mix. It's not as easy as one might think. Also, the food, water and air are questionable over here, making a wife's job about 100 times more stressful. What will her kids eat if she can't trust the food's sources? Will they have to spend a ton of extra money to get bottled water? If so, how does she know that it is safe? Her kids develop chronic illnesses due to the air pollution...does she ignore that or try to deal with it? What if there is no cure? What happens if her kids get hurt and she can't get them to a decent hospital in time? Etc, etc, etc!

That, unfortunately, is not where it ends. Money is spent like wildfire getting the "safer" products that an expat can trust. This ultimately puts a lot of strain on the household finances. The husband works gone more...the wife feels more and more isolated...the less they interact...husband and wife MAY both choose to seek companionship elsewhere.

Ahhh...let's talk about that. It is a very well known fact that in MANY cases, the husband hooks up with his exotic massage girl...leaving his wife and kids for a better, younger, more exotic wife and life. It's not a secret over here that many chinese women desperately want a foreign passport...and will do ANYTHING to get one...even steal another man's husband. It is common knowledge over here that it doesn't matter WHAT the western man looks like, it is a passport (and better life) they are after. ALL my chinese speaking friends continuously WARN me NOT to leave my husband over here for long by himself.

So why do the men succumb to the wiles of these manipulative chinese women? Because the chinese girls have "doting" down to an art form. They do and say ALL the right things to a western man...most of it a boat load of BS. But, most importantly, they are master minds at stroking a man's ego...and whatever else he needs stroked at the time. A man finds himself stroked continuously in a pleasurable way...physically and psychologically...he starts to convince himself he could have a better life with the woman who is making that all possible. Most often, he forsakes BOTH his wife and children just to make it happen...and sends them packing.

If you all think I'm exaggerating...stop it. I'm not. The above scenario is responsible for (what I believe after all the stories I have heard) over 70% of the divorces that occur for expats. Story after story after story...all with similar themes.

Now, the women are not always angels in these scenarios either. I have heard MANY stories of women hooking up with a chinese boyfriend or their driver, etc. But, honestly, it is usually done AFTER long periods of trouble in their marriages. They feel isolated and neglected...and instead of DEALING with the trouble in their marriages, they turn to another.

Ultimately...either has the same disastrous results. And so the numbers among us expats keep dwindling...steadily. And I'm very sad to see my friend leaving. :-( I'm very sad for her situation. :-(

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